Some people dismiss brand activism and think it’s nothing but PR stunts. However, we firmly Brand activism is here to stay and has the power to transform purpose into profit. We’ve created this article to help you understand what is brand activism, brand activism strategies, brand activism examples, its importance and pros and cons.
In pochi punti:
- 1 What is Brand Activism?
- 2 How Brand Activism Works
- 3 The Importance of Brand Activism
- 4 Buzzworthy Brand Activism Examples
- 5 How Brand Activism Can Advance Your Brand Strategy
- 6 Pros and Cons of Brand Activism
- 7 In Conclusion
What is Brand Activism?
Brand Activism is how progressive organisations are taking stands to create a better world.Christian Sarkar and Philip Kotler
In simple words, Brand Activism is the efforts businesses put to direct, impede or promote economic, political, social, environmental stasis or reform with the desire to impede or promote improvements in society.
It’s driven by justice or a fundamental concern for urgent and biggest problems that society is facing.
Brand activism has evolved from corporate social responsibility. It takes corporate social responsibility one step ahead. Here, businesses become active as visible entities leading the way to a greater cause.
These movements could relate to economic problems, political issues, environmental or social causes.
As a business owner, you can support any type of cause that you believe in or even pick a few that resonate with you.
How Brand Activism Works
The framework of brand activism is like the classic 5Ps of marketing. If you’re a brand that’s planning to become an activist marketer, start by deploying these 6Ps of brand activism:
#1. Purpose: Your Brand’s Core Values
You can only take a stand for what your business believes in. Not what your customers or impending societal issues, but what you and your business believes should change.
Understand why your business exists and take your brand values into account. Your values must be real and rooted to stand the test of time.
#2. Policies: Tangible Change
Don’t pursue empty actions that don’t align or support larger movements. Instead, stand up for real policy changes that address the root cause of an issue.
Be direct and transparent with your customers to support real causes.
For instance, Starbucks is a brand that embraces brand activism. It supports $15 minimum wages in several cities and has promised to increase the pay rates of its employees. Such economic and political causes influence politicians to take actionable steps for the betterment of society.
#3. People: of the Movement
You and your employees must believe in the issue you’ve decided to take a stand on and you all need to connect to the issues or movements you’ve decided to support.
You need to be passionate about creating change and must be committed to bringing change.
#4. Power: Resources
As a business owner, you have significant influence and power over the media, policymakers and your customers.
This also includes expertise in research and development, big budgets and performance marketing. You can leverage all these resources to make the world a better place rather than use them to increase sales.
#5. Publishing: Storytelling
Use your customers’ touchpoints and your voice to design creative content to spread awareness. Encourage your customers to join the movement by storytelling.
Organise a march for your customers to be a part of. Or request them to sign a petition so that they can support the same cause as yours.
#6. Pop Culture: Relevancy
Use your tone and brand positioning to cut through the media landscape. Your connection with your customers will help drive them into movements. Doing so will make your brand relevant and increase your brand’s goodwill.
For instance, let’s talk about companies such as Patagonia and Lush and Ben & Jerry’s. They are using their marketing to inspire, motivate and educate their consumers.
If you as a business owner wish to aspire to be “purpose” and “value-driven”, then use this 6P brand activism framework to shape your thinking.
The Importance of Brand Activism
Actionable and authentic brand activism will boost your brand’s profile, raise morale and impact the bottom line.
However, failing to keep up with the changing demands and preferences of your customers will be detrimental to your business.
To attract and keep loyal staff and customers, stand out from the crowd and have a stellar reputation, it’s imperative you keep up with social changes.
This is important if you’re marketing to a younger audience.
Let’s look at the numbers.
- 91% of people said they’re likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause (given the quality and price are similar).
- 60% of people of the age 16-24 pay more attention to brands that take a stand for important social causes especially those that align with their personal beliefs.
- 64% of people will boycott or associate with a brand because of its views on a political or social issue.
Seeing these numbers, more and more companies are considering brand activism.
Millennials are looking to make a difference and they pay attention to brands that aspire to do the same.
Buzzworthy Brand Activism Examples
We bring you the best examples of some of the biggest brands. Understand how they used brand activism strategies to benefit their brand.
#1. Instagram’s Most-Liked Egg
Instagram came up with an ingenious strategy in 2019 to promote a mental health campaign.
A photo of an egg was being shared and liked. Once it became Instagram’s most-liked photo, it “cracked” because of all the pressure and attention it received.
A caption was posted along with the cracked egg that encouraged and advised people struggling with mental health issues to talk to others and seek help.
#2. The Body Shop
It has fought for its ethical beliefs and values and promoted ethical consumerism.
But that’s not all: its founder Anita Roddick also fought for environmental protection, fair trade, civil rights and animal rights.
#3. Procter and Gamble
P&G’s known for its successful campaigns such as ‘Like a Girl’ that shed light on empowering and supporting girls and women.
Their ‘We See Equal’ campaign in 2017 was created to fight gender bias and aimed towards equality for all.
#4. Ben & Jerry’s
Pecan Resist was a limited-edition ice cream that made headlines in 2018. It resisted Trump’s policies on gender and racial equality, immigrant and refuge rights, LGBTQ rights and climate change.
It also highlighted and supported the work of four organisations: Neta, Women’s March, Honour the Earth and Colour of Change.
McDonald’s came up with an Immigrant Archive Project in 2019. Latino operators and store owners shared their personal stories.
A series of short films focusing on a family was shown to people. Since it was intense and dramatic, it got a positive response from the people.
Adidas launched a Pride Pack collection in 2019. It included rainbow-coloured clothing and footwear that celebrated the LGBTQ+ community and promoted diversity.
All the models featured in the shoot were LGBTQ+ influencers. This created a lot of buzz as people could actually connect with the brand.
How Brand Activism Can Advance Your Brand Strategy
Wondering how and whether brand activism can benefit your brand? Here are a few key advantages of how brand activism can advance your brand strategy:
- Helps Build Trust: By developing a natural relationship with consumers that support a common cause.
- Increases Exposure: By reaching and impacting a larger audience. Emotional elements in your campaign can trigger word of mouth publicity and leave a lasting impression on people’s minds.
- Helps Keep Up With Trends: By staying relevant and up to date with social movements and show their support.
- Build a Reputation with Millennials: 70% of millennials pay more for products that make an impact on issues they support.
Pros and Cons of Brand Activism
Brand activism has risks and rewards. We’ve seen real examples of companies that have gained more customers and built goodwill by taking a stand.
Taking action is better than not taking a stand even if there’s very little impact – as long as your action is driven by transparency and truth.
Here are the pros and cons of brand activism that you should consider before you take the plunge.
Pros of Brand Activism:
- Strengthens Internal Engagement: Win internal support and attract new talents
- Raise Awareness: Speaking up is more effective than traditional advertising to call attention and get exposure on social media with authenticity and relevance.
- Increase Loyalty: Embracing a cause dear to your consumer’s heart will build brand loyalty and a strong emotional tie.
- Win New Customers: A positive attitude and actions can be the plus to persuade more people to try your products or services.
- Increase Sales: Your brand action can lead followers/ambassadors to carry a boycott, encouraging people to buy your products or services.
Cons Pros of Brand Activism:
- Trigger International Conflict: Some employees may not share your brand’s opinion or stance especially on political issues.
- Displease Investors or The Board: Financial markets don’t appreciate risk-taking as it can lead to a drop in stock value or loss of fundings.
- Encourage Cancellation: In case your brand’s opinions sound controversial and doesn’t please everyone for being considered rude, untrue, insensitive or disingenuous.
- Lead to Boycott: Monetary brand rejection. Remember that a tarnished reputation can go down on your history and internet forever.
- Lose Consumers: Your brand’s opinion can be upsetting that customers may choose to turn to your competitor – for good.
Here are the most important takeaways from our article:
Brand activism won’t work if it’s not aligned with your organisation’s reputation and core values. Instead, it will come off as virtue signalling and damage your brand’s reputation further.
Storytelling works wonders. More and more companies are using storytelling as a way to create awareness, capture and keep customer’s attention. It works because no one can resist a good story as it’s a part of our age-old tradition.